Thursday, October 27, 2005


Remember a few days ago when I was complaining that several things had been malfunctioning lately? I listed off the two most egregious offenders, the dishwasher and the DVD burner. At the time I was writing it, I was thinking "Hmm, bad things come in threes. I wonder what the third will be?". Yesterday I found out when Linzy called me at work around 1:00pm.

After eating lunch with her friend Laura, Linzy went out to start the Pathfinder only to have it go "click, click, click, click" and not start. Plus the radio had lost all it's settings and the electrically adjustable seats were all screwed up. Not a good sign for the five year-old battery.

The car happened to be parked right across the parking lot from a Sam's Club, so the initial plan was to see if they would just come out and replace the battery for us. They wouldn't leave the facility, so I left work to come get Linzy.

The backup plan was to jump-start the truck, so we could just drive it over to somewhere and have them replace the battery. I figured why do it myself when they'll do it for free. Unfortunately we weren't able to get the battery charged up enough to be able to start the truck.

My next theory was the short-lived Plan C, to tow the truck across the parking lot using the tow strap in the Altima's trunk. Linzy vetoed that idea, so it was onto Plan D which involved me replacing the battery myself.

We drove home, changed clothes, and I threw just about every socket and wrench I owned into the trunk of the car (didn't want to get halfway through only to have to go home for the one wrench I didn't bring).

I had never changed a battery myself, so I wasn't exactly sure what to expect. It turned out to be almost disappointingly easy, as in so easy I can't even claim to have increased my knowledge of car repair by much. There were exactly four nuts that needed to be loosened, all easy to access and all 10mm. There was only one real critical instruction, to remove the negative cable first, and only one complication, that two of the nuts were on long rods so I couldn't use my 10mm socket on them (I had, of course, left the deep metric sockets at home). So I had to switch to a 10mm wrench. That slowed me down by about 30 seconds, and the battery was out.

With the old battery in hand, we drove over to Wal-Mart and picked out a new similarly sized battery. Then we drove back to the truck, threw the new battery in, reattached everything (negative cable last) and the ordeal was finished.

The whole thing took about 3 hours from the time Linzy discovered the battery was dead, to the point we pulled both cars back into the garage. But an hour of that was spent waiting for me to be able to extricate myself from work. If I had arrived with a 10mm wrench in hand, the actual battery replacement would have taken much less then an hour (including picking out the new one).

Assuming the battery isn't dead in a day from a bad alternator, it didn't turn out to be a very big deal. Certainly better then my original fear that the third broken thing was going to be the furnace (which we hadn't yet turned on when I wrote the first post).

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